Like clockwork each year, the Monday after the final regular season game of the NFL means that the unemployment line will grow by a few heads. Teams unconvinced with the current regime will demand change, cutting the head off the snake and starting fresh. While teams with newer owners, looking to put their own stamp on the franchise, will cut bait before giving a staff any time to cast a line, let along fish.
It is common practice in the current NFL, and referred to as officially as it is colloquially as "Black Monday". All the major networks push firing information to famished fans, hoping to sate the hunger for news about their team. Who knows: the next coach could be the coach who finally restores the team to greatness! Or, in the case of Rob Chudzinski, he could see his Browns' tenure cut short after just one year, much to the dismay of fans and players alike. And at least one or two people have a vested interest in a vested former Buckeye coach taking the reigns in Cleveland.
The domino effect of "Black Monday" is often felt in the college game as well, as recent college success stories like Pete Carrol, Chip Kelly, or [whichever was the former Stanford Coach] Harbaugh, examples of college coaches who made a move from Saturday to Sunday, and have experienced great success. As of now, another name could be added to the long list of college-turned-NFL coaches, with the rumors that Penn State's Bill O'Brien will leave Happy Valley for the greener, slightly less underwater pastures of Houston.
When big-time college football gigs open up, the floodgates open with them. The rumors are myriad about who might go where, and who could fill their old spot and so forth.The Washington Redskins fired Mike Shanahan yesterday, and his successor could be Art Briles, former college coach of Robert Griffin III. But even the infinitesimal chance of losing their coach caused Baylor to back up a Brinks Truck to keep Briles in Waco. Will Washington's owner, Dan Snyder, offer more to one of the best coaches currently working on Saturdays? You certainly can't put it past him to try.
Penn State is a fairly desolate place to think about coaching right now, but if O'Brien leaves he is leaving a surprisingly sturdy foundation upon which his successor could build to, in reality, re-build the Nittany Lion program. Whomever fills that possible void will leave another with him at his former post, likely another big name, or strong up-and-comer. Then that spot will need filled. The dominoes keep falling until every spot is filled, then we play another season of college football and do it all again next Christmas.
Even if the Penn State job opens up, the highest profile job will be filling the top role at Texas, after Mack Brown's tenure concluded last night. Who does Texas want? You name it, there's probably a short list in Austin with that name on it. Nick Saban was never going to Texas, but the thought of him leaving caused Alabama to up his contract to pay him like the Fortune-500 CEO that his is. After that, the list for possible Mack Brown replacements is a veritable "who's who" of college coaches.
But there's one "who" who hasn't been on any list of any substance to this point: Urban Meyer.
Behind Saban, Meyer is still one of the most coveted college coaches in all the land, and for good reason. Meyer wins no matter where he goes, evidenced by turning Bowling Green into a MAC power, Utah into a national contender, and Florida into a national champion. All Meyer has done since arriving in Columbus a few years ago is win all but one of his games, completing two undefeated regular seasons, and earning the Buckeyes a berth in the Orange Bowl. The national championship that has eluded the Buckeyes since 2007 is not on the menu this year, but one can only think that with Meyer at the helm, the question is "when", not "if".
And this is the benefit of having a coach working at what he calls his "dream job". Meyer is an Ohio guy, through and through, and has never outwardly spoken about any desires to coach anywhere but Ohio State, regardless of whether or not that offer extends from another college outfit, or NFL squad. There's no doubt in my mind that Meyer could succeed anywhere he goes, but his goal is now and, if you asked him, always has been, to succeed at Ohio State. When he was a Grad Assistant, he would sneak out to watch the band play before games. Short of winning titles, there is little that Meyer loves more than the Buckeyes, their legacy, and the vast traditions surrounding the program.
Meyer has embraced Ohio State, just as the university, community and program has embraced him. Meyer has had to change quite a bit to be part of the Ohio State family, and to remain an active part of his own family. He's a different person than he was at Florida, much to the liking of his wife and children, and that has made Meyer's decision to come to Columbus and even better one in hindsight.
Meyer's family is happy, Meyer himself is happy, and the fans are more than happy. While some fan bases may be getting restless with their currently unsuccessful coach, and others anxious about losing their current successful one, Ohio State has nothing to worry about in that department. In hiring Meyer, the Buckeyes brought a man to his dream job. And brought Buckeye followers their dream coach.